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Create a Glass Shard Reflection Double Exposure Effect in Adobe Photoshop

This post is part of a series called Music Video Inspired Effects.
How to Create a Colorful Clone Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop
Quick Tip: Expanding on the Style Inspired Double Exposure Effect
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

If you haven't seen Taylor Swift's video for her hit song, Style, then do yourself a favor and check it out! Not surprisingly it's a "stylistic" video, and it contains some wonderfully inspiring effects using silhouettes and double exposures.

In this series of tutorials I'm deconstructing some of those effects and showing you how to reproduce them in Adobe Photoshop.

Taylor Swift's video for her song Style inspired my daughter and me to see if we could reproduce some of the same stylistic double exposure effects. First we took on the iconic cave profile effect. Then we explored how to create the smoke-filled double exposure technique. In this tutorial we dig into how to reproduce the fun glass shard reflection effect.

1. Gather Assets

Part of the fun of this tutorial is being able to create the effect with a friend or family member, so I encourage you to create your own images to use in this project. You can find more detailed information about my setup for the photo shoot in the first tutorial in this series.

Step 1

The attached file for this tutorial includes the two shots needed to produce this effect. The first is a shot of the model holding a shard in front of her eyes—that's the GlassShardStart.jpg file.

Starter file GlassShardStartjpg

Then there's the front-facing shot that will be used for the reflection, FrontFacing.jpg.

Forward facing shot

Step 2

Another valuable asset is the set of grunge brushes from the Custom Dirt and Decay Brushes tutorial. While not absolutely required, these do add a believable "dirty glass" effect to the reflection.

Custom Grunge Brush

2. Set Up the Effect

The effect must be produced with two photographs as it is physically impossible for the glass shard to show a reflection of the model's eyes while it is being held in front of her face.

Step 1

Open both photos, and then drag and drop the front-facing photo on top of the glass shard photo. Reduce the Opacity to 50% to aid with positioning. Transform (Control-T) the layer until the model's eyes are positioned inside the glass shard.

Position the layers so the eyes align

Once the layer is in position, return the Opacity to 100%. Then convert the layer to a Smart Object with Layer > Smart Object > Convert to Smart Object. Then hide the layer so the original photo is clearly visible.

Smart Objectify the layer and then hide it

Step 2

Use the Quick Selection Tool to generate a selection of the broken glass shard.

Create a selection of the glass shard

The press the Refine Edge button. Smooth the edge slightly, to about a value of 10, and set the Feather to about 0.5 px. Be sure the Output is set to Layer Mask.

Step 3

Add a slight blur to the reflection with Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Use a Radius of 2.0 px.

Click on the white thumbnail next to the Smart Filter in the Layers panel. This is the Smart Filter Mask, and it controls the application of the filters. Use a soft round brush with black paint to gently remove the blur from her eyes.

Remove the blur from her eyes with the Smart Filter Mask

Step 4

The shard needs to look a little more like a reflective glass surface. Add a Bevel and Emboss Layer Style with these settings:

  • Depth: 317%
  • Size: 2 px
  • Soften: 1 px
  • Shading Angle: 139
  • Shadow Mode Opacity: 39%
  • Check the Contour option
Bevel and Emboss settings

Add an Inner Shadow Layer Style with these settings:

  • Blend Mode Color: #142c51
  • Opacity: 53%
  • Angle: 120
  • Distance: 4 px
  • Choke: 20%
  • Size: 41 px
Inner Shadow Layer Style settings

Add an Inner Glow Layer Style with the following settings:

  • Opacity: 27%
  • Glow Color: #bdc9d4
  • Choke: 11%
  • Size: 68%
Inner Glow layer style settings

At this point, the shard should be looking decidedly more glass-like.

Layer styles result

Step 5

Go to Select > Reselect to get the same selection of the shard. Click on the Background layer to make it the active layer and press Control-J to copy the selected pixels to a new layer. Now that the shard is on its own layer, move it to the top of the stack, set the Blending Mode to Overlay and reduce the Opacity to 50%. This puts some of the material's original texture into the reflection.

Add texture to the glass shard

Step 6

Add a New Layer over the reflection layer and clip it by going to Layer > Create Clipping Mask (Alt-Control-G). Then use the Gradient Tool to create a linear gradient from a light blue color #bdc9d4 to transparent. Set the layer's Blending Mode to Screen and reduce the Opacity to 50%. This gives a slight shine to the glass piece.

Add shine to the glass shard

Step 7

Add another new layer also clipped to the reflection layer. Grab the Dirt Brush 03 from the set of custom grunge brushes and use the same blue color #bdc9d4 as the gradient. Just a single click will provide a nice streaked texture for the glass. Set the Blending Mode to Screen and reduce the Opacity to 75%.

Use a custom grunge brush to add smears to the glass

3. Stylize the Effect

At this point, the basic mechanics of the effect are complete. It looks like a reflection, but it still looks a bit bland. Let's add some style to spice it up a bit!

Step 1

Add a new layer under the reflection layer and use the Edit > Fill command to fill the layer with 50% Gray. Then set the layer's Blending Mode to Overlay so it is rendered invisible. Then grab the Burn Tool (O) set to Midtones and with Exposure at 11%. Use this to create more soft shadow areas just behind the glass shard.

Dodge Burn layer

Step 2

Click on the top layer, the Shard layer, to make it active. Then create a Merged Layer by holding down the Alt key while going to Layer > Merge Visible. Then go to Filter > Camera Raw Filter.

In the Basic tab, reduce the Clarity to -25 and increase the Vibrance to +10. This helps give the image a soft focus effect.

Camera raw soft focus

Then switch to the Effects tab and add a Post Crop Vignette, reducing the Amount slider to -56.

Add a lens vignette

Step 3

The original effect from Taylor included a very noticeable bluish tint. Replicate that by adding a colorize layer. Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color. Use a bluish-green hue of #3d5264, and then set the Blending Mode to Soft Light and reduce the Opacity to 50%.

Colorize Layer

Step 4

Finalize any lighting issues with a Curves adjustment layer. Add a slight S-shaped slope to the curve to add contrast while still adjusting the overall lighting.

Correct lighting issues with Curves

So your final effect should look something like this.

Final Reflection Effect

Want More?

Are you inspired to tackle more photo manipulation projects? Want to try your hand at some custom Photoshop brushes? Check out my profile here at Tuts+ for my other tutorials, quick tips, and courses.

I'm also now available for one-on-one instruction! Do you have a photo editing project that's got you stumped? Bring it to me, and I'll help you through it! See more information on our Tuts+ Experts site.

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